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Crazy Bel Air Neighborhood Group in Crazy Leadership Crisis

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Bel Air residents have staged a coup of the Bel-Air Association, but the older leaders aren't going down without a fight

Oh no, Los Angeles's most entertaining homeowners association seems like it might be getting its shit together. But at least it's going out in a blaze of restraining orders and nasty emails. The Beverly Hills Courier reports that the rogue leadership of the Bel-Air Association has been ousted and new bylaws have been passed "aimed at providing more transparency and full disclosure for residents," and that the old leadership is putting up a fight worthy of Bel Air NIMBYs.

The Bel-Air Association dates back to the 1920s, but for the past few years has been accused of using development in the neighborhood as a cash register; in 2014, they were caught asking a megamansion developer to pay $500 to $750 for every 500 cubic yards of dirt hauled away, to go toward their pothole fund. A private, totally unaccountable group collecting funds for repairs to public streets? Sounds legit.

Also in 2014, the BAA approved filming in the neighborhood that outraged residents (it shut down one entrance for eight hours overnight); the rival Bel Air Homeowners Alliance (which is firmly anti-development) claimed the BAA was being paid for the filming of their logo.

Last week, "close to 150" residents gathered at the Bel-Air Country Club to elect a new board and pass a new set of bylaws. (In a delightfully crazy Bel Air touch, there were also "dozens more represented by proxy sent in advance.) Nine new members were elected and "a comprehensive new set of bylaws" was passed. "The goal is to restore democracy and a voice to all the residents...The community has been held hostage by the tyranny of the few who have looked the other way while untrammeled construction had taken place," one resident explained.

But the old BAA leadership was not loosening its grip without a fight. Former president Ron Hudson filed a request for a temporary restraining order to stop the new board from governing (not the first time the BAA has threatened one). He also sent an email to the new president reading "Go to hell...see you goons in court."

An LA Superior Court Judge denied the temporary restraining order; there will be another hearing in late April, but for now the new board can get to work. Sort of—they arrived at the BAA's office to find that "it had been wiped clean - computers were removed and drawers were emptied by former officials."